BOOK A HOTEL IN BALIAN
* Booking.com calls Balian 'Antasari' *
For the majority travellers who want to venture off the beaten track, Balian is the last stop on the road west... but we consider this quirky surf town to be the gateway to little-explored Bali.
From here, the constant string of villages on the road towards Gilimanuk (the port town on the far western tip of Bali) becomes interspersed with lazy coconut groves and rice paddies, and if you take your eyes off the potholes for a moment you'll see the jungled hills of West Bali National Park.
Balian is likely to be everything you want from a surf destination. The waves are often uncrowded, there are a few quirky bars and restaurants, and plenty of accommodation options. The beach is fringed with dramatic cliffs that offer views along a spectacularly wild coastline. (The spa at Gajah Mina hotel, which is perched on the tip of a cliff point, has probably the best views along the coast.)
The hub for travellers is the road that leads down to the beach, and along here are many small warungs (simple restaurants), roadside stalls selling drinks and snacks, as well as various homestays and hotels and restaurants that cater for tourists. Pondok Pitaya, a hotel that's virtually on the beach, is a good place to base yourself if you want to spend a beach day. As long as you spend some money at the restaurant, you'll be welcome to use their beachfront pool.